Automotive Painting: It’s Still a Good Trade

Automotive Painting: It’s Still a Good Trade

The industry continues to be a good trade for students out of high school.

Courtesy of BodyShop Business, by Carl Wilson

When my father got started in the collision repair business in the late 1940s, the body technicians were known as metal men and they were predominately combo guys — meaning they took the job start-to-finish, painting what they repaired. And they repaired more than they replaced. Body filler as we know it today had yet to be invented; his body filler was lead.

All bias aside, my father was a truly talented metal man who was ahead of his time. He embraced the continual changes to vehicle manufacturing and the tool requirements those changes brought. He had his own MIG welder, resistance welder and plasma cutter before many shops did, yet he always remained one heck of a “torch man.” He welcomed the challenges the collision industry gave birth to as collision repair was not only his vocation — it was his avocation. I suspect he painted as a way of wrapping up the repair, not necessarily because he loved painting. He was perfectly content to pass the spray gun to me when I showed interest, and we worked side-by-side for many years, both at work and at home. 

By the time I started professionally some 40 years after Dad did, there were clearly defined roles between painters and “bodymen,” as body techs were called back then.

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